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The Vikings need to rediscover the running game

The Vikings opted not to keep running back Dalvin Cook at an eight-figure salary in 2023. It’s becoming clear why they moved on.

It’s not him. It’s them.

With Alexander Mattison now the lead back, the Vikings don’t prioritize the running game. The pass-happy offense is out of whack when it comes to balance, or lack thereof, between running the ball and throwing it.

Last night, the Vikings called 46 passing plays and nine runs. In Week 1, it was 46 to 17. Through two games, the Vikings have called 92 pass plays, and 26 running plays. That’s 22 percent running.

Last year, the Vikings had 719 passes and 404 runs, a 35.9/64.1 percent run-pass ratio.

On Thursday night, the Vikings needed to ditch the run after falling behind by 20 in the third quarter. Before that, however, they weren’t running. Against the Bucs, in a close game, the Vikings didn’t run.

That’s fine, if it works. But while Twitter has been praising quarterback Kirk Cousins and receiver Justin Jefferson for their impressive statistical performances through two weeks, there’s only one stat that matters.

Two losses, zero wins.

Yes, the Vikings need to better protect the ball. Maybe they also need to weave a little more balance into their attack, if only to keep defenses guessing as to the basic question of whether they’ll start the play by pursuing a running back or defending the various receivers.